Anyone familiar with the town of Pahrump has likely heard of the Nevada Silver Tappers and thanks to the Facebook series “Returning the Favor”, now millions of people all around the world have had the chance to get to know a little bit about this amazing troop of dancing senior ladies too.
Earlier this year, celebrity Mike Rowe, perhaps best known for his television show “Dirty Jobs”, and his Returning the Favor crew headed to Pahrump to capture these wonderful women in all their glory.
Featuring the feisty and fabulous B.J. Hetrick-Irwin and her group of glamorous gals, the episode “Tapping for the Troops” focuses on the Nevada Silver Tappers and their philanthropic works in the local community. The episode has already been viewed more than 5.2 million times, with upward of 65,000 reactions, over 3,600 comments posted and 25,000-plus shares since it aired on Sept. 15.
Hetrick-Irwin, now aged 95 and the oldest honoree ever filmed for Returning the Favor, founded the Nevada Silver Tappers in 1989. These lovely ladies have been putting on shows in the valley and tapping their way into the hearts of the local residents for more than three decades, with two missions in mind. One is to provide women over the age of 50 the opportunity to stay active and sassy, and the other is to give back to the community through donations made to a variety of nonprofit organizations, including many veterans’ causes.
Hetrick-Irwin’s spitfire attitude is on full display during the episode as she explains that her philosophy has always been, “You’re only as old as you act,” and she certainly doesn’t act like your typical 95-year-old. Full of life and energy, Hetrick-Irwin is an inspiration to those around her, showing that no matter your age, you never have to resign yourself to being “old”.
Throughout the episode, the women involved in the Nevada Silver Tappers were effusive in their admiration for both her and for one another, expressing their heartfelt belief that they have discovered not only a family but a renewed sense of purpose and personal happiness.
As if being featured on a worldwide platform wasn’t enough, the ladies were in store for an enormous surprise as well. Keeping the secret under wraps until the very last moment, Rowe and his crew arranged for the final segment of the filming to take place at the Pahrump Valley Winery, where the Silver Tappers had been told they would simply be performing for the camera. What they didn’t know was that a huge crowd of hundreds had been assembled to celebrate the ladies, and this was just the beginning.
There was a special guest appearance by the famous and equally feisty Charo, who helped rev up the crowd at the Pahrump Valley Winery while they awaited the arrival of Hetrick-Irwin and the Silver Tappers, who were transported to the venue in style in a huge, pink Hummer limousine. Very carefully, the Returning the Favor crew organized the ladies on stage while the silent crowd remained hidden by the curtain so that when they finally stepped out onto the stage, each and every one of the Silver Tappers faces’ registered shock and pleasure at the sight that awaited them; hundreds of their friends, family and neighbors, all shouting and clapping with enormous enthusiasm.
Rowe then proudly brought the episode to its pinnacle point, asking Charo to assist in the presentation of over $9,000 for dance wear supplies and a check for $25,000 in cash. Hetrick-Irwin was absolutely shocked, covering her face in her surprise and struggling to hold back tears.
Describing that moment to the Pahrump Valley Times, she said she was utterly overwhelmed. “It felt like I was in a dream, I was crying half the time, I was just so amazed,” she said following the premiere of the episode. “It’s mind-blowing to me. I can’t even begin to comprehend this video going all over the world like this. So now, when I talk about the girls, I’m going to say, ‘Now introducing the famous Nevada Silver Tappers, seen all over the world!’
“And what marvelous, marvelous people. Mike Rowe is just a doll, he was so wonderful to me, treated me with such respect. All of his people were just wonderful and it’s very humbling,” Hetrick-Irwin continued. “Like I told them, this would have never happened any place but in Pahrump. I will never be able to give back to this community what they have done for me. This community has always stood behind me 100% and I’m so glad to be here. I love this community and I am so proud of all my girls.”
To watch the episode featuring the Nevada Silver Tappers visit Facebook.com and go to the Returning the Favor page. The video is entitled “Tapping for the Troops.”
Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at email@example.com